96 Jeep Cherokee Sport Towing question
Hey guys, I recently acquired a 1996 Jeep Cherokee sport 4.0 with towing package to tow my pop up camper. Our pop up camper fully loaded is not supposed to weigh over 2100 pounds and I believe I read somewhere that the tongue weight was 200 pounds. I can raise the tongue by hand and move the camper slightly so im not sure the tongue weight is correct right now since not fully loaded. Anyway when I hooked the camper up to my jeep in the driveway to see what it looked like and what drop hitch I need to buy it squatted the rear end pretty good and made the leaf springs go flat or almost flat. I am wondering if this is normal for such a little jeep or if maybe my rear suspension is worn enough that i need to replace shocks and/or leaf springs with a more towing rated set? When I hooked it up I was using my trucks ball hitch which is a 3 1/4" drop, the jeep needs more of a 2" or straight hitch based on my measurements with it hooked up on level ground. Im not sure if maybe the far drop brought the weight to the tongue too much which caused the excess squat? I read online that this jeep since it has the towing package can handle up to 5,000 pounds with a 500 pound tongue weight, which i would never try but I know it should be capable of this little camper. Any input would be greatly appreciated, Thanks!
Real Jeeps have dents
The factory original XJ Cherokee leaf springs are very prone to sagging, towing just makes it worse. Crown Automotive heavy duty replacement leaf springs are what I would recommend. These leaf springs have a bit more load capacity than the standard leaf springs, and will probably raise the rear end 1/2 - 1 inch above stock height. Alternatively you could also install new standard leaf springs, and a towing helper leaf. For towing, an auxiliary transmission is very strongly recommended, and be sure the cooling system is in tip top shape. If you do not know the age or condition of the shocks, replace them also.
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Any spring, leaf or coil will weaken with age. Replace springs as @CJ7-Tim suggests. If towing frequently you might consider adding air lifts to the rear suspension to help with the load & reduce wear & tear on the springs. And if you do have a factory tow kit, your XJ should have an auxiliary transmission cooler. If not then certainly add one.
New leaf springs is the way to go. If you are still having sag you can put overload shocks on. I did just to limit body roll. They work great but make it ride stiff with no weight in the back.
Just to add. The factory tow rating of 5000 lbs. is with a weight distributing hitch, which spreads the load front and back. I have towed a travel trailer at this weight without much problem weight wise. This was relatively low hills of southern Arkansas and Mississippi. I do not however recommend this kind of load, but it was an emergency situation.
'97 XJ Moss Green Metallic. 2DR. 2WD AW4 tow pkg.,3.73 gears. Firestone Destination A/T 225/75x15.
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